Animals and birds evolve more quickly in urban environments than in remote habitats, Cheltenham science festival is told

Foxes loitering around rubbish bins and pigeons roosting in train stations: urban animals are widely regarded as the dregs of the natural world.

However, according to biologist Simon Watt, cities represent some of the world’s hotspots for evolution and behavioural adaptation. Speaking at the Cheltenham science festival, Watt, who is founder of the Ugly Animal Preservation Society, said: “The ice caps are melting, the rainforest is shrinking, the one environment that is growing is cities. If we’re going to look for evolutionary shifts right now in our world, the place to look is cities.”

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